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Former UAB TE Steve Pickren returning to Blazers, too

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Another day, another former UAB football player has returned home.

Speaking to al.com, Steve Pickren confirmed that he will be transferring back into the UAB football program and will play for the Blazers when they resume the sport for the 2017 season. Pickren played for UAB from 2012-14, but left the team and transferred to FCS Chattanooga after the university disbanded the sport.

The tight end will have one season of eligibility remaining, the 2017 season.

“Just look forward to helping the team any way I can,” Pickren said. “I love and respect everyone at UTC, but I’ve never had a better coach than Coach [Bill] Clark. So excited to play for him and the Blazers again.”

Pickren played in 13 games for the Mocs in 2015, although he was mainly a blocking tight end as he didn’t record a catch. He played in 15 games in his first stint with the Blazers, starting two of those contests. Just like at Chattanooga, Pickren didn’t catch a pass at UAB.

Pickren is one of at least five former UAB players (HEREHEREHERE, HERE) who have returned to the Blazers the last few months.

Collin Lisa leaving Buffalo, will transfer back to UAB

Bill Clark
Associated Press
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After a short sabbatical away, Collin Lisa is set to return to the resurrected UAB football program.

Lisa confirmed to both the Buffalo News and al.com that he has decided to transfer out of the Buffalo Bulls football program and return to UAB. Lisa began his collegiate playing career with the Blazers, but transferred to the Bulls when his first school disbanded the football program.

With the sport set for a return in 2017, so is the wide receiver.

“I definitely think I could have had had a big year this year, but when I heard it was coming back, it crossed my mind now and then,” the Georgia native told al.com. “I really liked the city of Birmingham. That’s where I wanted to play originally. I can’t even emphasize how much I wanted to play for coach Clark. …

“It was more than football playing for UAB. You feel like you’re playing for the city with everything that happened and playing for the state. It feels like you’re playing for a bit more than just football.”

Lisa played in two games for the Blazers (no receptions) in 2014 as a true freshman. In his only season with the Bulls, Lisa’s 31 receptions and 325 receiving yards in 11 games were fourth on the team.

When the team returns to the field, Lisa should have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

Lisa is continuing somewhat of a trend as a couple of former Blazers who left the program have already returned (HEREHEREHERE) in anticipation of playing for their new/old team. Head coach Bill Clark has also received a commitment from a former LSU defensive lineman in October of last year; one from a former Kansas State running back; and one from a former Notre Dame running back.
Tragically, that Irish running back, Greg Bryant, was shot and killed earlier this month.

UAB line coach Mike Bennefield resigns to spend time with family

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - OCTOBER 25:  Head Coach Bill Clark of the UAB Blazers claps for his team as the run onto the field during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Blazers 45-17.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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The bad news for UAB is Bill Clark has lost a member of his coaching staff four months before the start of the 2016 season. The good news? Clark has more than a year to find a replacement as his resurrected Blazers won’t take to the field again until 2017.

Wednesday, Mike Bennefield confirmed to al.com, the offensive line coach revealed to Clark that he will be stepping down from his post, effective immediately. According to Bennefield, his decision was triggered by a desire to spend more time with his family.

A long-time high school coach, Bennefield joined Clark’s coaching staff at Jacksonville State in 2013, then followed the coach to UAB in 2014. The university disbanded the football program in December of that year, then resurrected it in June of last year.

Bennefield, whose son, Mitchell, is a long-snapper for UAB, remained on Clark’s staff throughout the disbanding and reinstatement, coaching the Blazers’ line this past spring.

“It made me think more and realize what I missed and how much family meant to me and how we did so many good things together,” Bennefield said of the brief shutdown last year. “I enjoyed everything at JSU and the year in 2014 with the whole staff, it was almost too good.

“It was real tough when they dropped the program and how things were going. Coach has got the foundation going the right way. As for me personally, I needed more time with the family. I missed it.”

According to Bennefield, he’ll seek out high school coaching jobs in the Jacksonville, Ala., area, where his wife is currently a teacher.

UAB RB Greg Bryant dies from gunshot wounds

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: Greg Bryant #1 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs the ball as Taylor Richards #4 of the Purdue Boilermakers lunges for the tackle at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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A tragic story has taken an unfortunate turn for the worst. Greg Bryant has died after being found shot in his car early Saturday morning. The family of Bryant confirmed of the passing Sunday, and medical reports later confirmed he was brain dead as of Sunday afternoon. Authorities have now ruled this case a homicide.

News of Bryant’s passing was first reported by Lynda Figueredo of CBS 21, via Twitter, citing a confirmation from Bryant’s family.

Bryant and a passenger were found shot in his car in Palm Beach, Florida and was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center for treatment. He was placed in critical condition and said to be fighting for his life.

Bryant was a five-star running back out of high school and a part of Notre Dame’s Class of 2013. He then moved to ASA College in Miami to play at the junior college level in 2015. He transferred to UAB to be a part of the revamped football program.

No suspect has been identified in the shooting.

K-State transfer Kalin Heath moves on to UAB

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - OCTOBER 25:  Head Coach Bill Clark of the UAB Blazers claps for his team as the run onto the field during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Blazers 45-17.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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As UAB continues to build toward a return to the football field in 2017, the Blazers have added another piece to its personnel puzzle.

According to al.com, Kalin Heath has decided to transfer into the UAB program and continue his collegiate playing career with the Blazers.  This past February, the running back opted to transfer out of Kansas State.

While the school has yet to confirm Heath’s addition to the roster, head coach Bill Clark indicated on Twitter that his dormant squad had gotten better a handful of days after putting the finishing touches on spring practice.

Heath was a three-star member of the Wildcats’ 2015 recruiting class coming out of the Georgia high school ranks in 2015, opting for K-State over, among others, Cincinnati, Indiana, Louisville, Marshall, Memphis, Mississippi State and Washington State. He took a redshirt as a true freshman. When UAB returns in 2017 after two seasons away, Heath will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Heath is the second FBS running back transfer Clark has added the last five months, joining Notre Dame’s Greg Bryant this past November.